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British Chess Magazine Vol 42 (1922)  
Joseph Henry Blackburne
Number of games in database: 980
Years covered: 1861 to 1916
Overall record: +451 -235 =216 (62.0%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      78 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 French Defense (64) 
    C11 C01 C00 C14 C13
 Ruy Lopez (53) 
    C77 C65 C60 C67 C70
 Scotch Game (50) 
 Vienna Opening (42) 
    C25 C29 C26 C28
 French (39) 
    C11 C00 C13 C10
 Evans Gambit (36) 
    C51 C52
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (85) 
    C01 C11 C00 C14 C02
 Ruy Lopez (45) 
    C61 C62 C66 C60 C63
 French (38) 
    C11 C00 C10 C13
 Sicilian (33) 
    B45 B25 B22 B21 B34
 Queen's Pawn Game (26) 
    D00 D02 D05 A46 A40
 Scandinavian (23) 
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   NN vs Blackburne, 1880 0-1
   Blackburne vs NN, 1863 1-0
   NN vs Blackburne, 1871 0-1
   A Steinkuehler vs Blackburne, 1863 0-1
   Blackburne vs J Schwarz, 1881 1-0
   Blackburne vs Mr. L, 1886 1-0
   Bird vs Blackburne, 1886 0-1
   Blackburne vs NN, 1894 1-0
   Blackburne vs Lipschutz, 1889 1-0
   Chigorin vs Blackburne, 1898 0-1

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Berlin (1881)
   Vienna (1873)
   Nuremberg (1883)
   Hamburg (1885)
   Paris (1878)
   London (1883)
   9th DSB Kongress, Leipzig (1894)
   Berlin (1897)
   Vienna (1882)
   London (1899)
   Monte Carlo (1901)
   Breslau (1889)
   Hastings (1895)
   Nuremberg (1896)
   Vienna (1898)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Anderssen, Blackburne, Charousek by fredthebear
   Anderssen, Blackburne, Charousek by monet11
   tactics 2 by tactics
   New York 1889 by suenteus po 147
   Blindfold Blackburne by ughaibu
   London 1883 by suenteus po 147
   Challenger Blackburne by Gottschalk
   Vienna 1873 by suenteus po 147
   Vienna 1882 by suenteus po 147
   FAVORITE PLAYERS by gambitfan
   Joseph Henry Blackburne by capybara
   td14's favorite games by td14
   London 1899 by suenteus po 147
   Tullius' favorite games by Tullius

   NN vs Blackburne, 1880
   NN vs Blackburne, 1871
   Blackburne vs NN, 1863
   A Steinkuehler vs Blackburne, 1863
   Bird vs Blackburne, 1886

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Joseph Henry Blackburne
Search Google for Joseph Henry Blackburne

(born Dec-10-1841, died Sep-01-1924, 82 years old) United Kingdom

[what is this?]
Joseph Henry Blackburne was born in Chorlton, Manchester. He came to be known as "The Black Death". He enjoyed a great deal of success giving blindfold and simultaneous exhibitions. Tournament highlights include first place with Wilhelm Steinitz at Vienna 1873, first at London 1876, and first at Berlin 1881 ahead of Johannes Zukertort. In matchplay he lost twice to Steinitz and once to Emanuel Lasker. He fared a little better with Zukertort (Blackburne - Zukertort (1881)) and Isidor Gunsberg, by splitting a pair of matches, and defeating Francis Joseph Lee, ( Blackburne - Lee (1890) ). One of the last successes of his career was at the age of 72, when he tied for first place with Fred Dewhirst Yates at the 1914 British Championship.

In his later years, a subscription by British chess players provided an annuity of £100 (approx £4,000 in 2015 value), and a gift of £250 on his 80th birthday.

In 1923 he suffered a stroke, and the next year he died of a heart attack.

Note: Blackburne played on the teams of Steinitz / Bird / Blackburne, Blackburne / Bird / MacDonnell, Bird / Blackburne, Blackburne / Aloof, Steinitz / Blackburne, Blackburne / Steinitz / De Vere, Blackburne / Potter, Blackburne / Horace Chapman & Joseph Henry Blackburne / Allies.

Wikipedia article: Joseph Henry Blackburne

1 Source: Grantham Journal - Saturday 17 December 1921, p.3.

 page 1 of 40; games 1-25 of 980  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Paulsen vs Blackburne 1-033 1861 Manchester blind simC00 French Defense
2. Paulsen vs Blackburne 1-050 1861 Manchester (England)C15 French, Winawer
3. A Steinkuehler vs Blackburne 0-124 1861 ManchesterC44 King's Pawn Game
4. Blackburne vs J F Gillam 0-132 1862 Blindfold simulB40 Sicilian
5. Blackburne vs Owen 1-023 1862 LondonB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
6. Blackburne vs Ravensworth ½-½22 1862 Blindfold simulB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
7. Anderssen vs Blackburne 1-053 1862 LondonC01 French, Exchange
8. Blackburne vs A G Puller 1-050 1862 Blindfold simulC31 King's Gambit Declined, Falkbeer Counter Gambit
9. Blackburne vs A Steinkuehler 1-021 1862 Manchester (England)C51 Evans Gambit
10. Blackburne vs NN 1-016 1862 ManchesterC38 King's Gambit Accepted
11. Blackburne vs H Young ½-½24 1862 Blindfold simulC41 Philidor Defense
12. Blackburne vs S Wellington 1-027 1862 ManchesterC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
13. Blackburne vs Mongredien  ½-½52 1862 LondonB01 Scandinavian
14. Blackburne vs W M Chinnery 1-040 1862 Blindfold simulC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
15. Blackburne vs J W Rimington-Wilson  ½-½32 1862 Blindfold simulB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
16. Mongredien vs Blackburne  ½-½35 1862 LondonC33 King's Gambit Accepted
17. Blackburne vs J B Payne 1-030 1862 ManchesterC45 Scotch Game
18. Steinitz vs Blackburne 0-170 1862 LondonC01 French, Exchange
19. Anderssen vs Blackburne 1-029 1862 LondonC33 King's Gambit Accepted
20. Blackburne vs H B Parminter 0-135 1862 Blindfold simulC51 Evans Gambit
21. Blackburne vs F Deacon  0-144 1862 LondonC41 Philidor Defense
22. Blackburne vs Lomax 1-039 1862 ManchesterC01 French, Exchange
23. Paulsen vs Blackburne  ½-½36 1862 LondonA07 King's Indian Attack
24. Blackburne vs Anderssen 1-024 1862 London HaringayC37 King's Gambit Accepted
25. Blackburne vs A Pigott 1-021 1862 Blindfold simulC34 King's Gambit Accepted
 page 1 of 40; games 1-25 of 980  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Blackburne wins | Blackburne loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Dec-28-14  poorthylacine: TO NOSNIBOR: thank you a lot for this information!!
I will order this book as soon it will be available, because this kind of books may be soon exhausted, like the one of Jimmy Adams about Zukertort which was a long time not available before reprinting!!

I hope many of the games will be annotated: Blackburne is one of my favorite players of the nineteenth century, together with Zukertort and Mackenzie, even I have of course much respect and admiration for Steinitz...

Dec-28-14  poorthylacine: I like too the book about the games of Anderssen by Gottschall, the only problem I need an electronic microscope to read it, lol!
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Whiskey stimulates the imagination--but eating a big meal before the game is equivalent to giving knight odds.>

The great man was, of course, known to stimulate his imagination thus.

This recalls a Walter Browne interview in CL&R long ago, in which he stated that he was more than willing to buy that evening's opponent a steak dinner. 'Let him try to play after that'.

Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: My opponent left a glass of whisky 'en prise' and I took it 'en passant'. - Henry Blackburne

Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: "The Grand Old Man" of British chess, Mr. Joseph H. Blackburne, received a cheque for £250 from British and foreign chess players, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, Saturday last. Mr. Blackburne is a Manchester man, and has played in all parts the world and against all the famous chess players. He already has annuity of £100, provided by chess enthusiasts."

Source: <"Grantham Journal", Saturday 17th December 1921, p.3.>

£100 in 1921 = approx £4,000 in 2015

May-13-15  Xeroxx: 21015 value?! wow.
May-21-15  Tullius: If you want to see a few pictures of Mr Blackburne's grave in Ladywell Cemetery you can find them here: http://streathambrixtonchess.blogsp... I hope it works.
I think his grave is in a terrible state and something should be done about it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Chess is a kind of mental alcohol… unless a man has supreme self-control. It is better that he should not learn to play chess. I have never allowed my children to learn it, for I have seen too much of its evil results> - Joseph Blackburne.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: The forthcoming Harding book mentioned by Nosnibor above:

Joseph Henry Blackburne (kibitz #165)

has had its proofs delivered to the publisher and is expected to go to press by September:

Aug-22-15  WTHarvey: Here's a 12 page, 'no ads', print edition pamphlet with 55 puzzles from the games of Blackburne @ What's the winning move ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Tullius> remember what a pig's ear they made of the grave of Johannes Zukertort.
Aug-24-15  ketchuplover: Keep up the good work Mr.Harvey :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Black Death!
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: From Graham's <Mr. Blackburne's Games at Chess> p3:

<Two things combined to bring him into this career. First, his fame was ever waxing greater, and in the year 1861 it happened that Herr Paulsen came to Manchester on one of his blindfold itineraries. Blackburne took a board, and was beaten in a very pretty game, which will be found in its proper place in the book. The effect of this was to stir within him a great desire to try blindfold play on his own account.

The very next day he induced a strong player to begin a contest in which Blackburne should not see the board. He came off victorious, and shortly after played three opponents with the same result. That was in the winter of 1861. In the spring of 1862 he engaged four opponents successfully, the games produced being bright attractive specimens that have been preserved: and will repay the trouble of playing over even to-day. After that he challenged ten members of the Manchester Club, and emerged with the fine score of five wins, two losses and three draws.>

(para added for readability)

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Harding's <Blackburne> book is now published:

Harding himself has some additional pages:

Reviews -

Research -

General info -

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: After demonstrating his blindfold skills in a simul (5-2-3), and doing a knight's tour at the London (1862), on Friday July 4:

<Shortly after the termination of these blindfold feats, Mr. Wilson, who had been opposed to Mr. Blackburne at board Ho. 8, and who had been struck by the talent displayed by him, placed in the hands of the Committee the sum of ten guineas, to be used by them at their discretion in promo ting a match between him and some other player of emi nence. In consequence of the protraction of the Tourna ments, the Committee were unable to carry out the donor's wish until December, when, Mr. Blackburne being again in London, a match was made between him and Herr Steinitz. It was played at the rooms of the London Chess Club,
whose members had increased the stakes to £15 ; the result was, that Herr Steinitz won 7 games, Mr. Blackburne 1, and two were drawn.>

(Lowenthal p lxiii)

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: American Chess Magazine, v. 2-3 (July 1898-Dec. 1899):

<Few people know, says M. A. P., in the Glasgow Herald, "that Mr. Blackburne, who has once more vindicated his title as the first of the English players, was in earlier life a worker in stone, and that the premises of the Law Life Assurance Society, adjoining the Church of St. Dunstan's-in-the-West, Fleet street, show practical evidences of his skill in that craft.>

The adddress of that building is now (still?) 187 Fleet Street. Impossible to know if any of Blackburne's handiwork survives; the current structure dates from 1834, but Blackburne probably worked on it in the early-mid 1860s.

Here's a present view of the building front:

Seems I struck out completely appealing for owners of the Reshevsky book, but surely someone here will have Harding's recent one on Blackburne. Does it shed any light on this subject?

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I'll try and go there this week. I know the building and it is very pretty.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: A family member used to work in Fleet St. during its heydays, but I've never been there once.

I found this page which shows then (1870s) and now pictures of the buildings on the far side of St. Dunstan's:

I'd say it's possible but unlikely that the present front of 187 dates from the nineteenth century. Oh, Joseph, where is thy monument?

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I've just walked past it. I took a load of crappy photos which I've put on Bookface. Link to follow.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Still waiting for that link...

* * * * *

Blackburne commenting on the <Ruy Lopez>:

<This, the most fashionable opening of to-day, was in not great favour in the sixties. It is a game I never play in a tournament, except when I feel a little off colour and am content with a draw, and then it means losing half a point. In a match this does not matter, as it leaves the two opponents precisely where they were before, but in a tournament every draw costs something, as the leaders usually win the majority of their games.>

Blackburne/Graham p35/52

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: I haven't scanned all the previous pages, so this might have been noted before...

Pop Quiz.

Q- What is the shortest game Blackburne played and lost?

(Wonder if Harding has this story?)

Premium Chessgames Member
  diagonal: Kingpin review on Harding's Blackburne biography:
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Today's Quote:

<Whiskey stimulates the imagination--but eating a big meal before the game is equivalent to giving knight odds> - Blackburne.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Acting on a lead from the <ACB>, Sept-Oct 1918, p.179. I found this in the <Falkirk Herald>, May 29th, 1918, p.4:

<Huns raid J. H. Blackburne: Readers will be sorry to hear that the Huns have treated the veteran chess-master's residence as a "fortified place" (!) and glad to know that their bomb did no personal damage to the aged player and his wife. Mr H. W. Butler, of Brighton, sends us these particulars :- "Mr J. H. Blackburne and Mrs Blackburne have had a most dangerous and nerve-shattering experience. In the last air-raid of Sunday night a bomb dropped close to their residence, damaging the house very much, but, fortunately, neither of them were personally injured. But both have suffered such a shock that it has been deemed wise for them to go into the country to recuperate." British chess players fully sympathise with Mr and Mrs Blackburne in their trying experience, and are delighted to know the "present from Germany" missed its mark.>

The account in the <ACB> had the additional information that <Mrs. Blackburne was thrown down by the force of the explosion and the veteran international player was rendered temporarily deaf>, but their source for this remains unknown.

Having the proximate date of attack, and the knowledge ( that Blackburne lived in Lewisham, London, at the time, it wasn't difficult to locate the details:

<The last and largest aeroplane raid of the war took place on the night of 19 May 1918, when 38 Gothas and 3 Giants took off against London. Six Gothas were shot down by interceptors and anti-aircraft fire and a seventh aircraft was forced to land after a protracted close quarters engagement with a Bristol fighter of 141 Squadron from Biggin Hill, crewed by Lieutenants Edward Eric Turner and Henry Balfour Barwise. This was the first victory of the war for Biggin Hill,[83] for which Turner and Barwise were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.[84] The British estimated that 2,724 lb (1,236 kg) of bombs were dropped, although the German figure was 3,200 pounds (1,500 kg). 49 people were killed, 177 injured and damage was £117,317.>

More info on the general damage in Lewisham: http://lewishamwarmemorials.wikidot...

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